July 21, 2022
If You Choose Me As Your Counselor, You Also Get Me As A Human
At one time, I said I was going to have a blog on my website. You will see that prior to this moment, I have one blog post.
I have a historical habit of putting too much on my plate. When I went to graduate school, I also had a toddler, worked full-time, taught a class, did practicum and internship, and sat on the executive board for the honor society for my program. I didn’t have time for myself as a professional or as an individual, mom, spouse, friend, or family member. I had to cut back at one point, quitting the board and trying to streamline my time. One would think…”Okay great, I have learned my lesson. I will never do that again!” But when I opened my practice, I worked full-time at a university and took clients before work, on lunches, and after work. It felt exciting, even though I had just enough time to fit in sessions and complete my notes. I didn’t have time to market or take on a large caseload, I didn’t have time for extra professional development outside of the supervision sessions I had to do for my counseling license, and I was running on all cylinders at all times. A few months after starting the practice, I decided to take the leap of faith and quit my full-time job to work part time with a substance abuse agency and part time on my own. I think at the time I believed I was going to be able to strike a balance, maybe even have too much time on my hands, so I did what any chronic overdoer does - I volunteered to manage a Michigan-based therapist Facebook group and also signed up to teach a class with my husband in the fall of 2021. I was excited for the chance to network with other professionals and to also be with students again. Then I got pregnant. Then my practice got busy. Then my calendar at the substance abuse agency got packed to the max. Weeks and months passed without me actively engaging with the Facebook group. I said I’d start a monthly consultation group and I didn’t. By the time we made it to fall and I started teaching, I thought…”why did I do this again”? I again had no time for anything except sessions and notes, fitting as much as I could into the tight schedule I had. I was tired, not just from the pregnancy but from too much work in too little time, and not enough rest or downtime. I love my job so much, but it’s a heavy one that takes a toll on my own mental capacity and at times, my emotions. I don’t clock in and clock out, leaving work at the door. My work is with me always, and I have had to learn the hard way to identify boundaries where they are needed. I am working hard at better balance now. This has been helpful, but maybe the most helpful thing of all has been learning to treat myself with grace and self-compassion the same way I do my clients, and to let them do the same for me.
I cannot do everything I want as a professional. While I would like to, there is not enough space in a day or my life in the way I have built it to make room for all of the professional things. There have been times I have dropped the ball. I have forgotten if a client was in-person or virtual, making one of us show up in the wrong place. I have scheduled clients without confirming so they didn’t know they needed to come. I have had a full voicemail box and a pile of emails that takes me more than a week to catch up on. I am a counselor and yes, a professional, but I am also human. During graduate school I think I started to believe when I got out on my own, I wasn’t going to be able to be me without it being unprofessional. What I have been pleasantly surprised to find is that I have been able to build therapeutic relationships with amazing clients who are okay with the fact that I am human. Picking a therapist is like picking a partner - it has to be a good fit. For some, I am not going to be the right fit. But for others, I have found my humanity has made them more comfortable with their humanity as well. We give each other grace and flexibility, and everyone can breathe a little easier.
With a new addition to our family, I’m still going through a new adjustment. I came back from maternity leave and got busy - fast. That’s happening while the baby isn’t sleeping soundly at night, and my older kids have busy lives, and I’m trying to remember how to be a person again after growing another one for nine months. I want to think I’ve bounced back to normal but I’m pretty sure at this point there is no bouncing back to something I was in the past and maybe it’s best not to try to - I get a chance now to embrace a new normal. A chance to set professional and personal boundaries for myself that are going to actually make me an even better counselor, person, parent, and partner.
I commit to you as my client that I will not overschedule myself, I will not burn the candle at both ends, and while I won’t be perfect, I will do the best to care for myself so I can show up as my best version of myself professionally. I will let you be an imperfect human, too.
I commit to my family that I will not overwork myself so I have nothing else to give at the end of the day. I will be present and put the laptop away when we get the chance to enjoy our time together. I will make you my greatest priority.
I commit to myself that I will actually take care of my mind, body, and soul. That if I love to show up in the life that I have, I need to feel rested and well enough to do it.
I get to hold space for my clients and it is one of the greatest honors, and they have taught me to hold space for myself, too. I want to openly own my ups and downs as a counselor so my clients know it’s okay for them to do as well. I never want to ask them to do something I wouldn’t do for myself.
I may not have another blog post for quite some time. Actually…odds are good I won’t. So if you visit this page and think, why does this counselor have a blog tab and hardly anything on it…now you know. I’ve found Facebook is a little easier to share bite-size support on a more regular basis. But from time to time, I will feel the energy to post in a way that feels genuine, and I hope anyone reading it who needs to feel more comfortable approaching therapy gets the reassurance that you can work with someone who will feel like another human walking alongside you, figuring it out as we go.
If you choose to work with me, welcome. You are safe here, mess and all.
If you choose not to work with me, I hope you find a counselor who feels like the safest, warmest place to land.
March 22, 2021
Three Ways Couples Can Reconnect This Week
For many couples, the pandemic has provided more time to spend together, but there has also been less ability to do things that may have offered spontaneity, fun, and connection. Communication may have become strained in the past twelve months as stressors have risen. The good news is that life doesn’t have to be completely back to normal to shake things up and build health in your relationship. Here are three ideas for reconnecting as a couple, even during the pandemic:
Do a marriage check-in; pick a version suited to you and your partner, like this one at Our Peaceful Family. One of my favorites is “On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate our friendship and ability to have fun and enjoy each other’s company this week?”
Look for the good and speak it! Share appreciation and fondness with your partner; you can choose to do this with a written journal you share that you both fill in during the week, or be intentional to share your thoughts throughout the week or before bed. You can find some great gratitude prompts for couples here.
Have a date night. You’ve probably spent a lot of time at home, but is there something new you can do? Maybe the weather is finally warming up and you could go for a hike, or there’s a recipe you’ve been wanting to cook that you could make together. Youtube is a great place for tutorials on massage techniques and even painting. Make a list of activities you can do now, toss them into a jar, and let it be a surprise. If there’s quiet time for conversation, consider working your way through this great list of questions for couples.
Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. And no need for pressure - have fun with it! If you try any of these, message me and let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you!